OBJECTIVES: This study sought to clarify the possible associations between blood lead level and serum cholesterol and lipoprotein levels in subjects occupationally exposed to lead. METHODS: Levels of blood lead, serum total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides in 56 male industrial employees who were exposed to lead were compared with those in 87 unexposed employees. RESULTS: Mean blood lead levels were 42.3 (+/- 14.9) micrograms/dL in the exposed group and 2.7 (+/- 3.6) micrograms/dL in the nonexposed group. The exposed subjects had higher mean levels of total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. CONCLUSIONS: Blood lead levels are positively associated with total and HDL cholesterol.